Regarded as one of the most beautiful towns in England, Harrogate was voted as the happiest place to live in the UK in 2013.
Although not as old as some towns in the UK, the name Harrogate can be found as far back as 1332 and by 1399. It was regarded as royal property when the possessions of the Duchy of Lancaster merged with the English Royal Crown.
Interestingly, the town actually sprang from two hamlets, which is known only thanks to an association with the nearby town of Knaresborough. When William Slingsby discovered the first mineral well in 1571, however, the town’s future was set forever.
Less than a hundred years later, the town was expanding rapidly and bathing houses sprang up all over the town as doctors wrote about the health benefits of Harrogate waters; drawing thousands to the town from all over the country, often to simply drink the water.
What’s more, the Enclosure Act for the Forest of Knaresborough saw to the protection of 200 acres of land, which included the springs and other parklands, bringing weary visitors in from the cities who were looking to escape the industrial smog.
Indeed, although nearby towns and cities profited from the sourcing of coal, the manufacturing of steel and the weaving of cotton, Harrogate survived through the industrial revolution by offering fresh water to those simply looking to escape it.
By the early 20th century, it was clear that Harrogate was a popular destination among the elite, both from England and nearby countries such as France.
Unfortunately, due to the Great War, the popularity of the town waned, despite it not suffering a single raid from Germany. Interestingly, however, Harrogate did not share the same fate 20 years later upon the outbreak of the Second World War, as this time the town provided a crucial element of safety for government offices that were evacuated from London.
Thanks to this need, Harrogate quickly established itself as an important commercial, conference and exhibition centre.
Although a great many towns and cities faced economic downturn during the 1970s and ’80s, Harrogate is not notable for sharing this problem, as it’s industries did not rely on the sourcing or manufacturing of raw materials.